Hudgins: “I Remain Committed to All Our County Residents and to Our School System”

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy HudginsIn the wake of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passing an advertised tax rate of $1.13 per $100 of home value, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins says she remains committed to the citizens of Fairfax County and the Fairfax County Public Schools.

The supervisors passed the maximum 4-cent tax hike on Tuesday, but school advocates say the increase is not enough. Each penny accounts for an additional $23 million in revenue, which will fall short to fully fund FCPS Superintendent’s request for nearly $2 billion from the county for 2017.

Garza said in January that a fully funded budget would mean raises for teachers, a commitment to keeping elementary class sizes under 30 students and no cuts to programs. FCPS may now have to consider cuts.

After the supervisors passed the tax rate increase 7-3 on Tuesday — supervisors Dan Storck (D-Mt. Vernon), Kathy Smith (D-Sully) and Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) voted no — Hudgins made a motion that the board look into a county meals tax to generate additional revenue. The motion passed.

And hours later, the board was asked by Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) to consider voting again on the tax hike and getting another shot at raising it to 5 cents. That was met with a contentious discussion before the board ultimately voted again. The do-over resulted in a 5-5 tie (Hudgins voted no), so it failed.

 

Here is the full statement from Hudgins:

I remain committed to all our county residents and to our school system and would like to share the following information.

As you may know, the annual real estate tax is a combination of the January 1 assessed property value and a real estate tax rate determined each year by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

This year Fairfax County property increased 1.2% over last year’s assessed values. In Hunter Mill District, as a whole, property values do better than the county average; our increase was 1.6%.

On March 1 2016, at the General Meeting of the Board of Supervisors, the Board voted to advertise

a maximum Real Estate Rate of $1.13 per $100 of assessed value of property. This is an increase of $0.04 from the previous year.

As in past budget cycles, the Board of Supervisors tried to set the Real Estate Tax Rate at a level sufficient to fund the service needs of the county, which includes the needs of Fairfax County Public Schools. Before casting my vote on the rate to be advertised, I heavily considered the impact to all the real estate taxpayers. My challenge is how to serve all residents who depend on county services while the impact on the taxpayer.

In the FY2017 budget, the County Executive recommended a 3% increase in the funds transferred to the school system. It was, and remains, my belief that our school system requires additional support, and we must have a serious conversation about those needs, the county’s needs, and the ability of our residents to support our collective needs.

A word of explanation – In this budget, each penny in the Real Estate Tax rate produces approximately $23 million in revenue. Therefore, the Board approved advertised rate of $0.04 higher at $1.13 will raise the average home owner’s tax bill $303.86 over last year’s tax bill.

As a taxpayer and supervisor, I recognize and share concerns regarding the increase to our tax assessment. I hope you share my concern in the limited taxing authority Fairfax County has compared to Virginia’s cities and towns, and the Board of Supervisors inability to diversify our revenue streams. In order to alleviate some of the burden from our home owners, we must minimize overdependence on the Real Estate Tax revenue.

Therefore, at 1 March Board meeting, on my motion, the Board directed county staff to provide the following information regarding

a. An updated report from the 2014 “Meals Tax in Fairfax County Task Force;”

b. A timeline of implementation of the meal tax for the restaurant industry should a meals tax referendum be successful;

c. An explanation of the cost relating to implementation to help the industry prepare for implementation should a meals tax referendum be successful; and

d. An implementation timeline for the Board of Supervisors and steps necessary to be in compliance for a November 8, 2016 voters referendum.

Again, I remain committed to our county residents and to our school system.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins/file photo

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